METRO WEEKLY: What do you think should be the nature of the attorney general’s relationship with both the Council and the mayor? As Democrats, can voters trust that you will be able to remain independent of the mayor, the Council, and particularly the D.C. Democratic Party when it comes to aggressive oversight and enforcing D.C.’s laws?
Paul Zukerberg (D): As attorney general, I will work with the Council and the mayor in the public interest. However, I will also enforce the law with fairness and equality, and ensure that both the Council and mayor are held accountable so that District residents’ needs are being met. If you review my work on the battle for this election to take place, I have proven I will hold our elected officials accountable, fight corruption, and apply the law without bias or favor.
MW: Realizing that bias enhancements are more difficult to “prove” in a court of law, what can the attorney general do to ensure that crimes motivated by anti-LGBT bias are properly prosecuted, beyond merely providing lip service to the LGBT community?
Zukerberg: I am an experienced trial lawyer, and have more courtroom experience and successes than any other candidate. I have a long track record of winning in court and establishing the elements of proof necessary to prevail. I will ensure that anti-LGBT crimes are vigorously prosecuted and that bias enhancements are applied when appropriate. To ensure hate crimes against those in the LGBT community are properly prosecuted, I will also foster better relationships with the LGBT community, enhance community dialogue, and improve community outreach.
MW: What specifically, under the restrictions put forth in the Home Rule Act and the U.S. Constitution, can an attorney general do to push statehood or budget autonomy? Or is this just a “talking point” for candidates, designed to get votes?
Zukerberg: As attorney general, one of my first acts will be reversing the office’s position on budget autonomy. Part of the reason why we have not made any progress on this issue is because our current AG has fought against it. I will enforce the Budget Autonomy Charter Amendment. In the fight to allow the citizens of the District to elect their own attorney general, I have shown my willingness and ability to fight for voting rights for D.C. citizens and to win in court.
MW: Avoiding talking points and campaign rhetoric, name three SEPARATE legal issues that you would advocate and push for as the city’s “top cop,” and why they’re important to improving the lives of District residents.
Zukerberg: I will increase accountability in our government. Since 2010, when District voters voted to elect our attorney general, three councilmembers have been convicted of fraud, our current mayor faces allegations, and other cases of alleged misuse of government funds have been reported in the press. We need someone in our government who will be a watchdog, ensuring taxpayer dollars are used for their intended purposes of improving the lives of D.C. citizens. I have shown that I am not afraid to take on the Council, the mayor or Congress if doing so is in the public interest.
I will also fight to reform the juvenile justice system. I have spent 30 years fighting the school-to-prison pipeline, and I will continue to do so as AG. Zero-tolerance policies, including criminal prosecution of minor offenses, status crimes and schoolyard incidents, must be curtailed. Criminal prosecutions should be reserved for serious offenses, involving violence, guns or gangs. I will work with social services, educators, faith-based and community groups to empower young people to achieve, not needlessly punish them. I will judge my time as AG by the number of kids who finish school and have productive lives, not the number criminally prosecuted and sent to jail.
I have fought for full statehood, budget autonomy, and voting rights. More importantly, I have demonstrated that I can be effective and get results. I have won many appellate court victories, and am the best candidate to defend budget autonomy and full voting rights in court.
MW: Why should the LGBT community vote for you?
Paul Zukerberg (D): My campaign has the support of ordinary, everyday working class people. The LGBT community, and all District communities, should support my campaign because I have a proven track record getting results and fighting for the people. As attorney general, I will review every case on their merits to ensure everyone is treated fairly and on a level playing field. The question that voters have is this: Do you want an attorney general for “K” Street or do you want an attorney general for your street?
For more information on Paul Zukerberg’s campaign, visit zukerberg.com.
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